I don’t like being disappointed and I hate disappointing others.
I certainly grew up wanting to please everyone – parents, teachers, family, friends, coaches.
Without really thinking much about it, it was my automatic response to anything. I would always say ‘yes’, when sometimes I really wanted to say ’no’, for fear of disappointing or letting someone down.
Maybe you too can relate? …It’s actually really common among women.
Often I would catch myself on auto pilot blurting out a ‘Sure, I can do that’ or ‘Yes, of course, that’s totally fine’ when as soon as I said it I wished I had said ‘No’, or at least just a ‘Let me get back to you’ to give myself a chance to see what it was I really wanted to do.
At our core, and especially as women we hate to let others down, cause conflict or disappoint others. It’s often a completely learnt behaviour that we often don’t notice we do on repeat, time after time after time.
There’s truly nothing worse than that feeling in our gut when we’re doing something we really don’t want to do, or when we have to let someone down because we over committed ourselves and said ‘Yes’ to too many things.
If you have a tendency to over give, chances are you have trained those around you to expect it, and when you decide to stop, you’re most likely going to upset some people you love dearly. And often this fear is the very reason we continue to do it.
Yes, of course I can ….. Um damn, actually I mean No.
Maybe you can also relate to that feeling of having a ‘very full plate’ always being ‘busy’ and ‘never having enough time’….this too is very common, a result of always saying yes and really shouldn’t be your norm.
What would you say if I told you that everything that is on your full or over flowing plate was put there by you, and therefore only you can take it off?
When I first considered this statement made famous by Danielle LaPorte, I was a little taken back by it.
I mean, seriously there’s no way that EVERTHING that’s on my plate was put there by me?! Or was it?
Most of the things that take up my time are my children, family, work, commitments….. they’re just automatically dumped on my plate because no one else is going to do it, right?
When I thought more about it though, really I am the one that allowed them the space.
I am the one who said yes to all the after school activities, to volunteering at school, to submitting that 3,000 word article, to covering that yoga class on the other side of town, to inviting family over for dinner…
So, what’s the solution?
It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
1. Set boundaries.
Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and a healthy life really. For most of us, setting boundaries is something we do sometimes, but it’s a skill we need to work on and practice.
Being able to set boundaries requires knowing your own limits – like what makes you feel uncomfortable, stressed, worried etc.
It’s also important to tune into your feelings and if you are ever feeling resentment or discomfort, there’s a good chance someone has overstepped your boundaries. Become familiar with these feelings and what initially caused them as that can help you to build better boundaries for yourself in the future.
2. Learn to say no.
This one can be really tough at the start, but does become easier with time (and age!).
If you really struggle to say no to others, begin by just being mindful to not automatically say yes.
Learn instead to say, ‘Let me think about it and get back to you’ or ‘Let me check my diary/calendar first’, which allows you some breathing space to think about your answer before giving it.
This also allows you to feel into what’s been asked of you and to check how it makes you feel. Also important is to check – does it align with your beliefs, needs, wants, desires, goals, visions.
If not say no.
Guard your time and be cautious who you give it to.
3. Delegate/Ask for help.
Do you have a web of support? Friends, family, colleagues, hired help that you can ask for help or delegate tasks to?
We often try to take on way too much, thinking that if we can’t do it all we must be bad mothers, wives, business owners, friends – but since when did it become a standard that we need to do it all?
The sooner we begin to take a step back, ask for help and delegate to others, the sooner we allow other women to feel that its ok to do the same.
I speak to so many mothers who struggle to do all the things, and feel that they have no help or support yet their children don’t help with anything either.
I believe that it’s so important that children have responsibilities around the home, even if it’s just simple things like putting their washed and folded clothes away, vacuuming their rooms, taking the recycling out to the recycling bin, folding the washing, feeding the animals etc.
Letting go takes time
Like any new skill, setting boundaries, learning to say no and letting go of the ‘Good Girl’ complex can and will take time, practice, courage and support.
Start small with things that don’t seem overwhelming and gradually build on to it as time goes by.
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Facebook: Melanie Hansen
Melanie Hansen, Integrative Women’s Health Coach
Melanie Hansen is an Integrative Women’s Health Coach, Yin + Vinyasa Yoga Teacher and Personal Trainer.
Specializing in hormone health, fertility, periods, energy, stress, nutrition and movement.
Melanie supports and empowers mothers and mothers to be through Motherhood.